Ranariddh: Firing Was Legal

Prince Norodom Ranariddh has told his father, King Noro­dom Sihanouk, that opposition party parliamentarian Son Chhay was legally fired from his post as chairman of a National Assembly commission. And, the prince says, he “has no right” to do anything about it.

Son Chhay said Wednesday that is nonsense, and that he remains the chairman of the commission until the Constitutional Council issues a ruling.

Both sides released letters Wednesday stating positions. Son Chhay, the only opposition party member to head a National As­sem­bly commission, was ousted Sept 13 after six of the nine commission members voted him out, saying they didn’t like the way he ran the Commis­sion on Public Works, Transport, Telecom­munications and Post, Industry, Mines, Energy and Commerce.

Son Chhay says he was fired because he held hearings into questionable government deals, including no-bid contracts at the Siem Reap and Phnom Penh airports, and the $2,500 per month salary paid by telecommunications giant MobiTel to So Khun, the Minister of Telecom­mun­i­cations and Posts.

Son Chhay contends his firing was illegal, since no opposition party members were allowed to vote and he was replaced by Kim San of Funcinpec.

That appears to violate a 1998 power-sharing agreement giving control of one of the assembly’s nine commissions to the Sam Rainsy Party, an agreement sanctioned by the King.

Prince Ranariddh, asked by the King to look into the matter, responded that six commission members—three CPP and three Funcin­pec—wrote to him Aug 23 asking permission to replace Son Chhay because he “does political work for his own party and does not implement the commission’s internal regulations.”

The prince said he “had no right” to interfere in the internal operations of the commission.

Son Chhay said Ranariddh, as president of the National Assem­bly, has every right to take action, but has not even asked for names of other opposition party members who could replace him.

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